The Student contacted VP Education candidate Laura regarding her campaign and manifesto. To read Laura’s manifesto, click here.
Why did you choose to run for this position?
My experience of being a School representative combined with who I am, made me choose to run for the position. I’m someone who speaks up. As a School representative, I’ve input into numerous committees, spoken to staff members, including the Principle, and pushed for better resource checks within my School. My journey at the University of Edinburgh has been mixed, with ups and downs, celebration and utter frustration- as the VP Education I would have more input in changes that would benefit us all.
What are your thoughts on the mandatory interruptions policy?
I am opposed to the policy, as it stands. I think there are so many better alternatives because the policy would have such an immense negative impact on ALL students. Although it’s probably not intended, this policy feels patronising and offensive – and suggests that students cannot make their own decisions. I massively appreciate that staff have worked on the policy for a while and at heart are looking out for the students. However, we need to find a way that will not make students fear their education if they reveal aspects of their personal health issues.
What is the most ambitious point on your manifesto and how do you plan to tackle it?
Pushing for better feedback on assignments is going to be my biggest challenge. There are so many problems with the feedback system at the moment, one major problem being tutors not being paid fairly for the large marking work-load. I personally am not an expert on marking papers, but to tackle this, I would approach student tutors, who see both sides of the feedback issues, and utilise their knowledge of the system, to come up with a plan which can be taken to the staff!
You have experience of being a School representative. What are the strength and weaknesses of the rep system and what would you change if you became VP Education?
The biggest strength of the representative system is definitely the structure, in that it connects representation at various levels. The programme representative can collect feedback from their peers directly, and together with the school representative they can make sure these issues get taken to the right place. The VP Education is there to work with all the representatives and to take issues even further. However, the current weakness, in my opinion, is the lack of understanding that many people have for this structure. I think school representatives are very underrated in their work. My approach as VP Education would be to promote the system, even more, to ensure programme representatives and school representatives are connecting, and to use this structure to create change.
It is clear from your manifesto that you want to listen to the concerns of the student body. How exactly will you do this?
I believe in face-to-face communication over everything, so as VP Education I would like to (where practical) have drop-in sessions, friendly opportunities for individuals to come and speak to me, as well as using and promoting existing online channels. I would put an emphasis on communicating with the School and Programme representatives (via Representative Lunches and Representative Forums), as this is an excellent way to hear the concerns of the student body.
Finally, is there anything in particular about your manifesto/campaign that you want to draw students’ attention to? What is your favourite policy?
The main thing I want to highlight is that I am realistic, practical and passionate. I have created a manifesto based on manageable ideas, I will not change the world – however, I would love to continue being an agent of change within this university.
The following is a transcription of Laura’s responses during the Sabbatical Candidate’s Question Time which took place on Thursday 28 February 2019.
Due to technical difficulties we, unfortunately, do not have any record of the first half of this event. Some answers may have been edited for clarity.
How do you intend to effectively represent the students from the academic level you are not currently a student at?
I can represent by listening to people, understanding another person’s point of view is what you need to represent people, and that’s something I’ve practised as a school representative. I’ve listened to the problems people have and take them to the place they need to go. That is regardless of whether I am the same or different from that person. I am someone who’s very openminded, I am someone who listens, I am someone who takes the actions that need to be taken. I think that’s the most important thing to being a representative. It is true that I am an undergraduate and I’d also be representing postgraduates, but we are all human. With the postgraduates, I’d make sure to communicate with them in a way so that I can understand what their problems and positions are, and by working together, that’s how we can make a change, and that’s what’s crucial, communicating with everyone.
Image: Shannen Tioniwar